Galileo’s Middle Finger is one of the most important social-science books of 2015 because of how thoroughly it punctures liberal smugness about science.
When Liberals Attack Social Science
The New Yorker
December 30, 2015
I spare no virtual ink in this forum excoriating those who would deny science in the name of political ideology, and am studiously non-partisan about this: the conservatives who still refuse to consider the possibility of climate change, end stem-cell research, or keep evolution out of textbooks come under as much fire as the liberals engaged in a jihad against GMOs, who deny the role of evolution in the human brain, and who in the words of Michael Shermer, maintain that “everything natural is good, and everything non-natural is bad.”
So it is encouraging to come across Jesse Singal’s moving review of Galileo’s Middle Finger, Alice Dreger’s new book about what happens when science clashes with activist liberal dogma. In the book, Dreger documents in meticulous detail two specific cases of when this happens, and the results are disturbing. I won’t go into specifics, but suffice to say that both researchers collected evidence that pointed in a direction that challenged liberal dogma, and as a result, faced baseless academic and popular witch hunts aimed at ruining their lives and their careers, not simply challenging their conclusions.
That this is reprehensible is axiomatic. As Singal notes:
We should want researchers to poke around at the edges of “respectable” beliefs about gender and race and religion and sex and identity and trauma, and other issues that make us squirm. That’s why the scientific method was invented in the first place. If activists — any activists, regardless of their political orientation or the rightness of their cause — get to decide by fiat what is and isn’t an acceptable interpretation of the world, then science is pointless, and we should just throw the whole damn thing out.
These accusations are not being flung by some right-wing PAC. Not only is The New Yorker somewhere to the left of center in its own editorial policies, Dr. Dreger is a genuine progressive who has spent years working with the transgendered. Her conclusions are thus animated by a desire to rid science of politics rather than score points on the opposition.
Read the entire review, and then do what I did: pick up Dregel’s book. This nonsense has to end, and we, by being informed, can help end it.